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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Thinking ethically

We need guidelines as we support those facing infertility

Genesis tells us that on the sixth day of creation, newly honed human ears heard God’s first command: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (1:28). Ever since, the birthing and raising of children has given meaning to human life.

But not everyone has the ability to fulfill this divine decree. Sarah initially realized her dream of children through her slave Hagar (Genesis 16). Rachel cried to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die” (Genesis 30:1). And barren Hannah bargained with God: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will ... give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a Nazarite until the day of his death” (1 Samuel 1:11).

CellToday those who cry out with Sarah, Rachel and Hannah don’t turn to their slaves or to divine bargaining in order to be fruitful and multiply. They turn to reproductive technologies.

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system, usually defined as the inability to achieve a pregnancy after trying for one year. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it affects approximately one out of 10 U.S. couples of reproductive age. Each year more than 1 million women of reproductive age—approximately 2 percent—use infertility services. Reproductive technologies make it possible for many people to have a genetically related child.

Assisted reproductive technologies include a number of medical techniques that increase the likelihood of fertilization by manipulating sperm and eggs in the laboratory. ARTs can’t treat all cases of infertility but do offer a solution in many cases.


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